First, I’d like to apologize for my lack of posts lately – no particular reason other than my utter dismay at our current political state. For my entire life, I have been proud to be a citizen of this country. I truly believed that this was the greatest country on earth – a beacon of freedom and democracy that stood as an example to other countries. That feeling was consistently validated during every one of my foreign travels – people routinely expressed their admiration of our liberty and our institutions as they lamented their own country’s corruption and inability to serve “the people”. In six short months that admiration has turned to scorn and ridicule as we have swiftly lost the credibility that was dearly earned through our (mostly) principled behaviour on the international stage. At the same time, here at home, our white house occupant continues to offer empty promises to his electorate (he never speaks of the majority of the country who didn’t vote for him) without a clue on how to achieve them. Somehow we are supposed to believe that his imagined victories over his enemy of the day and his unending placing of blame (on anyone other than himself) is a good substitute for actually serving the nation. In his own words, it is indeed “sad”. Sorry for the rant but I thought I’d express my dis-satisfaction before turning to more positive thoughts.
One of the most satisfying experiences in my life of late was a 16 day trip down the full length of the Grand Canyon. Believe me, at least some of that satisfaction was due to the lack of communication with the outside world and a respite from the White House’s fright show. But one of the other extreme joys was the opportunity to take morning hikes in the canyon. Often these hikes led us upward to incredible vantage points and vistas where the sheer beauty was overwhelming. Combined with the exertion of climbing and rock hopping up the trails, we were treated to that wonderful feeling of physical well-being at the same time we were experiencing the wonders of mother nature. I chose this particular photo from one of those hikes as a great example of that satisfaction. I actually left our hiking group at this spot just so that I could enjoy the solitude, quiet, and magnificent view here as the sun started to fill the canyon.
Last October as I was driving home from a little time in the desert and the Sierras, I stopped along highway 395 and took this morning shot of the Sierras near Lone Pine, California. The cars were whizzing by me as I framed the shot so I didn’t spend a lot of time to get it right. The lava rock and a few scraggly sage bushes were the only foreground I could use but I still liked this photograph because of the mix of the rocks, the face of the mountain range, and the dramatic clouds above. To me it is a simple photo but one that catches the essence of “Earth”.
Just did a quick search to find a photo for this week’s challenge. While this may not be the best fit, this guy seems to be enjoying his green surroundings…… I took this in the very early morning at one of the stops on a European River Cruise a few years back. I found this statue on a wall just off the empty main square of a beautiful little town (can’t remember the name right now). I loved the look on his face, the natural flora, and even the bikes parked nearby. I still find this photo relaxing and a nice reminder of that solitary morning.
Feeling lazy so I’ll take the easy way out this week and choose another photo from Edinburgh for this week’s challenge, atop. This is a fairly regular view from “atop” one of the hills surrounding Edinburgh. Although it is a normal view for postcards, you can understand why it is popular as it gives you a nice vantage point for the primary sights of the city. In particular, the clocktower on the right centre of the photo is on the beautiful Balmoral Hotel, to the right of that is the Scott memorial (to Sir Walter Scott), and to the left is the Edinburgh Castle high on another hill. I normally don’t like to take views from above cities (skyscrapers or observation towers) because they seldom provide a view into the character of the city. I think this view is different in that it is not high enough to hide the character of the main buildings and it provides a nice overview of where everything is……
I should mention that the memorial in the foreground is to Dugald Stewart, a Scottish mathematician and philosopher of the 17 and 1800s.
I hate to climb on the church related responses to this challenge but we recently had the opportunity to do some photography in and around St. Giles cathedral in Edinburgh, Scotland. It was a rainy couple of days so I was able to get some external and internal shots of this beautiful church which dates back to the 1100’s and was rebuilt in the late 1300s after a fire destroyed much of the original structure. I am not normally drawn to take lots of photos of cathedrals but I found this one to be very photogenic and we also used it as a refuge to stay out of the downpour.
I took this first photo not long after we arrived in Edinburgh. There were actually quite a few people on the rainy streets but this long exposure “ghosted” most of them out of the picture. Even though the photo was taken over a period of about 50 seconds, the two ladies in the foreground kept chatting for the entire time so they were captured along with the cathedral. I liked the context they added so I didn’t reshoot the picture or try to remove them in processing……
The next photo is of one of the main chambers of the church. The lighting was low but dramatic and yielded just enough color to make the stone building seem warm on this stormy day. Any time I am in a historic place of worship such as this one, I cannot help but to try and imagine the different ways the people lived during the lifetime of the building and how their hopes and dreams differed over time while at the same time remaining fairly constant in theme.
We had lots of roads taken over the last week as we were in Scotland, London, and Ireland. Many of the roads were very shiny as it was raining- a lot. On our first evening in Dublin we went wandering around the city looking for a place to eat and have a drink. We ended up right in front of the famous Temple Bar so I took a couple of shots there before we went on to eat and drink elsewhere. In any case, we were glad to see it and we went on to a great night on the town in Dublin.
To me there is no better example of ambiance than a sunset – especially along the coast or up in the mountains somewhere. Combined with reflections off the water (in this case, a very low tide) there is nothing better to set a beautiful and colorful mood. This photo is taken of the crystal pier in Pacific Beach just as the sun sets right on the horizon. Hope you enjoy the calm and peaceful feeling of this photo on a sure to be tumultuous week…..
There’s nothing that signifies a new beginning or horizon to me better than the sunrise of a brand new day. It gets even more exhilarating and significant when that new horizon happens to be looking to the sea with the sun rising in the east. I took this photo in Poipu beach, Hawaii last year. The colors of the sky were in stark contrast to the black lava rock that rims the coastline. A worthy sight and memory to begin any day or any endeavor.
I decided that my recent trip to the Eastern Sierras would provide good material for this week’s challenge “transmogrify”. I chose this photo from the Trona Pinnacles for the challenge because of two factors. The first is that the pinnacles are a drastic and out of this world change from the unappealing town nearby. That is one of the reasons that it has been chosen for many hollywood films, from sci-fi features to “Top Gun”. The second reason is that the pinnacles become even more impressive during changes in lighting such as sunrise and sunset. This photo was taken just at sunset before the stars and the milky way made their appearance. The transition of colors in the sky and the shadows of the pinnacles was rapid and dramatic. Well worth the stopover……
It took me a long time to get to the last photo challenge but here is my interpretation of H2O – in 3 physical states. I took this photo early on our trip to Svalbard, Norway. This area was one of the first glaciers we came across after our first night on the good boat Polaris. It was a gloomy morning until the sun started to burn off some of the clouds and the mist near the glacier. I caught this scene just as the fog (gaseous H2O) was lifting over the Glaciers (solid) and the Fjord (liquid). It was quite a spectacular sight – the photo does not do it justice but it was a great first morning on our Arctic journey…..